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LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly speaker on Monday blocked the opposition’s move in the house demanding prime minister’s resignation, but allowed the treasury to adopt a resolution reposing full trust in “active and sagacious” leadership of Nawaz Sharif.

Opposition Leader Mahmoodur Rasheed requested Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal to allow the opposition to table a resolution demanding the premier to step down in the wake of Panama Papers case verdict.

“PM Nawaz Sharif has lost moral ground to cling to his office after the apex court declared that he was no more ‘Sadiq and Amin’ (truthful and honest). How can he appear before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the capacity of prime minister? He should better resign and make a fair probe possible by JIT,” he said.

However, the speaker expressed his inability to take up the resolution out of turn in violation of rules. On this, the members of opposition comprising Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf, PPP, PML-Q and Jamaat-i-Islami started chanting ‘Go Nawaz Go’ and other anti-premier slogans. They also tore the copies of the agenda of Monday’s proceedings. The treasury members gave a tit-for-tat response and raised slogans against PTI chairman Imran Khan. The treasury members also chanted some ‘non-parliamentary’ slogans against Mr Khan.

The speaker snubbed some of the PML-N legislators for displaying objectionable placards targeting Mr Khan. However, the members hardly bothered about the speaker’s warning.

Failing to convince the speaker to allow it to table the resolution, the opposition boycotted the house proceedings. The treasury which was apparently waiting for that moment brought its pro-Nawaz resolution and got it passed in the opposition’s absence.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah presented the resolution that was all about ‘indispensability’ of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for Pakistan.

“This house reposes full confidence in dynamic, active and sagacious leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. For (public) welfare and resolution of the people’s problems and progress of the country, PM Sharif is a ray of hope.”

It further said the premier had played an important role in overcoming energy crisis and ending terrorism. “Nawaz Sharif will also be remembered in connection with historic CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) that has ability to change the destiny of the country,” the resolution said and expressed concerns over attempts to create ‘anarchy’ in the country.

In an obvious reference to the PTI, the resolution said “all such” political forces should concentrate on 2018 election and let the prime minister focus his energies on the progress of the country.

The treasury members expressed their delight after passage of the resolution and chanted pro-Nawaz slogans. They said he would be the prime minister even after 2018 election.

The opposition protested the speaker’s role. “The speaker showed a partisan attitude today. He bulldozed our resolution citing rules but allowed the treasury to table pro-Nawaz resolution under the same rules. The speaker should not have shown a biased attitude towards the opposition as he should play an impartial role,” PTI MPA Sadia Sohail told Dawn outside the assembly.

She said the opposition would continue demanding the premier’s resignation throughout the Punjab Assembly session in and outside the house.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2017